The Various Mechanisms by Which Exercise Boosts Brain Health

May 28, 2023 4 min read

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The Various Mechanisms by Which Exercise Boosts Brain Health

 There are many ways that exercise can boost brain health. As BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) links with muscle strength and brain rejuvenation, exercise also has the ability to affect your cognitive function and health due to the number of other biochemical pathways. These include the following: 

Various mechanisms include:

  • Increased blood flow to the brain - Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. This can help to improve cognitive function, memory, and learning.
  • Increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor -  (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that helps to promote the growth and survival of brain cells. Exercise has been shown to increase BDNF levels in the brain, which can help to protect against cognitive decline.
  • Reduced inflammation - Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Exercise can help to reduce inflammation in the brain, which can help to protect against these diseases.Your levels of inflammatory cytokines are lowered during exercise. As these are associated with obesity and chronic inflammation which both have the ability to adversely impact your brain function, the benefit of taking part in regular exercise is clear. 
  • Improved mood - Exercise can help to improve mood and reduce stress levels. This can lead to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline.Through exercise, natural feel-good hormones are increased. This is in addition to the release of neurotransmitters including dopamine, glutamate, serotonin, GABA, and endorphins that are linked to mood regulation. In a study, Princeton University found that exercise produces excitable neurons as well as new neurons intended to release the GABA neurotransmitter. Because excessive neuronal firing is prevented by the release of the GABA neurotransmitter, this aids in promoting a state of natural calm. These mood-enhancing effects come from frequent exercise, both immediately following a workout and over time.
  • Increased brain plasticity - Brain plasticity is the brain's ability to change and adapt. Exercise can help to increase brain plasticity, which can help to improve cognitive function and learning.
  • Regulating insulin and reducing insulin resistance - Exercise, which also helps to lower your risk of insulin resistance, is one of the best strategies to normalise your insulin levels. As a result, your risk of diabetes is reduced while also preserving your cognitive health. Diabetes is related with a 65% increase in the chance of Alzheimer's disease. Due to the important role insulin plays in brain development, dementia will result if insulin signalling in the brain is compromised.
  • Enhancing blood flow and oxygenation to your brain - Your brain needs a considerable amount of oxygen to function properly. This makes it easier for us to comprehend why your brain benefits from the same things that are good for your heart and circulatory system. Increased blood flow brought on by exercise improves brain function nearly instantly. This is why you typically feel more concentrated after working exercise, which might raise your productivity levels.

Overall, exercise is a great way to boost brain health and protect against cognitive decline. Even a moderate amount of exercise can make a difference. So get moving and enjoy the benefits for your brain!

In addition to the mechanisms listed above, exercise may also help to improve brain health by:

  • Protecting against damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, including brain cells. Exercise can help to protect against damage from free radicals by increasing the production of antioxidants.
  • Reducing the risk of stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of disability and death. Exercise can help to reduce the risk of stroke by improving blood flow to the brain and reducing blood pressure.
  • Improving sleep quality. Poor sleep can contribute to cognitive decline. Exercise can help to improve sleep quality by reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation.

Overall, exercise is a powerful tool for protecting brain health and improving cognitive function. If you are looking for ways to improve your brain health, make sure to include regular exercise in your routine.

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Daily Walking 

Along with poor nutrition, inactivity is a proven cause of the majority of current illness epidemics. Such as approximately 14% of children, over 18% of teenagers, and almost 40% of adults are already obese. Obesity raises the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease as well as a number of other health issues. Given that Alzheimer's disease ranks third among all causes of death, just after cancer and heart disease, the significance of this is apparent.

 Furthermore, sitting for prolonged periods of time is known to increase the risks of developing cancer, heart disease and all-cause mortality. Therefore, the importance of moving more is significant. 

Investing in a stand-up desk can help you accomplish this goal during the workday. By just placing weight on your two legs while using a stand-up workstation, you can reduce your chance of developing insulin resistance and diabetes by triggering a molecular cascade. Additionally, walking more is a vital answer in place of using the easiest mode of transportation; walking or riding a bike is a better option than driving. You should aim to take between 10,000 and 15,000 steps each day, according to estimates. If your struggling with time invest in a treadmill, or if room is limited, a folding treadmill.

If you must travel by car, consider making little adjustments, such as taking the Should you have to drive to your destination, making small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away will all contribute to helping you move more on a daily basis Thus, incorporating a form of regular exercise into each day is something that will provide numerous health benefits.

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